Poems in August

The first of my poems in August
The last of my poems in August

The past few months of poetry collections (here’s the one from July!) have been wrought with trauma and devastation as I picked pieces that mirrored the massive violence Black people are facing on an increased basis as of late. Of course I could (and will) continue sharing poems focusing on what’s happening around America in regard to widespread policing and incarceration, but for this month’s poems in August, I wanted to collect a handful of lighter pieces—a few of which center on love. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from cycling through the constant barrage of suffering (which I have the privilege of doing) and acknowledge the sweet parts of living, so we’ll do exactly that with these poems in August. The first piece is Adrienne Rich’s “What Kind of Times Are These“—a poem that starts in a melancholy storytelling tone and eventually concludes with hope. I love how she explains that even in the darkest moments of war and imperialism and capitalism, something small yet life-giving like a tree is what we need to celebrate. Rich’s imagery is described in almost a pastoral way, which isn’t unlike that of her other pieces. Especially now when everything in the world feels doomed and hopeless, we can follow the theme of this, the first of my poems in August, and remember the trees. “Star Turn” is a piece by Graham Foust that reminds me poems don’t always have to be long and complicated. I’m most passionate about Foust’s last two lines: “we’re the pain the people we love / put the people they no longer love in.” The syntax of those lines took my breath away. “fleeing” by Kara Jackson is the third of my poems in August and what Jackson writes is about freedom and the complicated relationship between abundance and absence. I thought this piece was extremely relevant to this time in history where liberation feels centuries away. I especially love the sentence “i have never longed for something / which was not once mine.” I shared Aracelis Girmay’s “Ars Poetica” back in April (still one of my favorite pieces!), but I think I love “IV.” even more now. “what language will I / love you in” is one of the most beautiful lines I’ve ever read and I’m inspired by the tenderness she incorporates in her descriptions of love, how she’s at a loss for ways to accurately illustrate her beloveds. Amazing! The last of my poems in April is Ada Limón’s “Love Poem with Apologies for My Appearance.” Ada Limón remains unmatched in her use of imagery and ability to thrust the reader into the space she created. The last sentence “I’m wrong, it is that I love you, / but it’s more that when you say it back, lights / out, a cold wind through curtains, for maybe / the first time in my life, I believe it” is so vulnerable and I think perfectly encapsulates this scene of true intimacy between lovers that maybe we all hope to one day experience.

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